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March 27, 2018

Victoria Azarenka

Miami, Florida

V. AZARENKA/K. Pliskova

7-5, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Just your thoughts on the match. I mean, it was a little bit tricky, I guess, the conditions.

Q. Can you talk about it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, it was tricky, definitely tricky conditions, but something that's the same for both players, so it's not something that you can take and say this was bothering me or something.

I thought that in those conditions that I adjusted really well. I had to adjust. I had to be a little bit, give a little bit of a bigger margin than maybe I usually do.

I felt that I was returning really well today, reading her serve better than the match before. I had a little bit more trouble the last time we played by reading her serve.

You know, the lead that I had, I should have held a little better, but something to improve for the next match.

Q. With you playing Indian Wells and Miami, you were not there long in Indian Wells, but those games might have helped you to gain a little bit of rhythm, competition. Coming through Miami, do you feel things are getting the way you like them right now in the tournament?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, they're getting better, for sure. I usually -- first tournament when I'm coming back after a long period of time is always going to be a little bit rusty, and it's hard to find the rhythm.

But I feel that with every match I'm improving better. As long as I'm healthy, I'm able to improve quite fast, so I hope to continue on this path.

Q. Your next opponent, if you can talk a little bit of semifinals? Big match, of course?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. Every match is big match for me, no matter what stage. I think it's more important probably for the public, you know, but for me, every match is important right now.

I played Sloane in Indian Wells, and I think it's going to be a little bit of a different story here, I hope, because I didn't play well there (smiling).

But she's been showing really good tennis here, and I want to continue to focus on myself and try to progress as well as I have been doing so far this tournament, but I definitely need to play better than the last time.

Q. Are you getting excited now that you're in the semifinals? Is getting into a finals in your head? Is the possibility of winning in your head?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, well, possibility of winning is always in my head. That's why I play. I don't come to a tournament just to play, you know. But I'm always taking one match at a time.

I think it's important to have this mindset for me. And as much as people think it's close, I know how far it is. Until the last point is done when you win, it's never easy.

So I want to focus on one match at a time, one point at a time, and we'll see what happens.

Q. Just physically how have you sort of found coming back from pregnancy? Are you at the level now you thought you would be at this time, or is there still a bit more to go?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: How do I feel physically after pregnancy?

Oh, well, it's been a while (smiling). Already it's been 15 months. But I feel like physically I kind of surprised myself with the transformation that I have achieved after giving birth to my son. I became in much better shape, which usually happens otherwise for a woman sometimes, but I'm glad that it worked out for me much better.

I feel physically pretty well. I think I still need to improve. I want to get faster. I want to get stronger to be able to cover the court and cut the balls much better. But overall I think I'm in pretty good shape. I just need to get better tournament-fit and matches-fit.

Q. I don't know if it's been asked, but just in terms of the rhythm of today's match, just with lots of breaks of serves and everything like that, how surprised were you with that at all? Do you think you were able to kind of stabilize things towards the end of the second set?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I wouldn't say I was surprised that I was able to break so many times. I wasn't surprised that I was broken, also (smiling).

But I felt that today it was easier for me to read her serve. I was getting more ball on it. I was more aggressive on her serve. Especially on the second serve I was able to take opportunities.

But because the last time we played, it was really difficult for me to read her serve. But also, you know, with the windy conditions, I felt like after the serve, that first ball was a little bit difficult to handle, because we both played really fast and really deep. So sometimes it's harder to make that ball in. So I think that was difficult for her and for me today.

Q. In terms of the matches that you have played this week, where do you rate tonight? I mean, there is a lot of shot making. The quality was high, regardless of the breaks.

Q. I mean, getting a win over a top 5 player like that, how does it feel?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It feels really good. You know, before the match I said it was going to be a great test for me to see where my game is at. I think it gives myself a lot of positive things to work on, continue to work on.

And seeing the progress that I made throughout this whole tournament, you know, playing from first round to playing a top 5 player, I made a pretty good gap of improvement.

So I want to continue to go down this path. I mean, I think I'm not a bad player, so I know how to win matches. I have a lot of experience. For me it's important to stay healthy, to keep improving and to be able to play.

Q. In terms of the improvement from Indian Wells, first match at Indian Wells to now, do you feel like it's been exponential, like match to match that you're getting quickly locked back into things? Do you feel like it's been gradual? What's your sense?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I think compared to Indian Wells, it's a pretty big difference of my play, especially the way I move the ball around, the way I'm able to step in and the way I can construct the point.

I think in Indian Wells that was missing. I was more playing the ball into the court and trying to make the ball in. And here I'm actually making things happen, so that is quite a big change.

I think my movement got sharper. My whole reaction just got better because I'm able to play matches and understand the dynamic of when to do what.

So that wouldn't have come without matches no matter how good or how much I practiced. So for me to play different opponents, and, you know, not being actually seeded and play more matches I think actually at this moment helps me.

Q. With Sloane, obviously a rematch of Indian Wells.

Q. Do you take information from that match into this one, or are both of you two completely different players at this point compared to that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, not completely different players, but I don't want to take anything from that match because it was terrible for me.

Even though, you know, on the positive side I still had a set point in that second set, and I had opportunities. I just didn't take them.

So for me right now, I think -- I hope I will play better. I just want to continue to focus on my game one point at a time, I think that's been working well this week, and continue to enjoy it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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